35+ Easy (and Yummy) Frugal Meals for Families

frugal meals for families

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If you are looking for frugal meals to feed your family until payday or just to keep your grocery budget low, then this is the article for you!

In this article you will find some of my favorite frugal meals for families that are quick and easy and also really tasty. They are perfect for when you are trying to spend less money so you can save more.

These frugal meals for families will help you make your grocery budget go farther.

Why Prepare Frugal Meals for Your Family?

Even if you make a pretty good income, you may still want to make frugal meals so that you can have more money available in your budget. That money can then be used for important things like paying down your debt, building your emergency fund, investing for retirement, and doing fun activities and taking fun vacations with your kiddos!

How Do You Make Frugal Meals?

The cheapest meal you can make is one that you already have the ingredients in your house. Check your fridge, freezer, and pantry to see if there is a meal you can come up with using the food you already have.

Then you will save money by not needing to purchase more food at the store. That is also one of the quickest and easiest ways to make frugal meals for your family.

Have you ever done a pantry challenge? This is a fantastic way to save a bunch of money on your grocery budget!

When you are looking for frugal meals, the ones with few ingredients (except spices) will often be cheaper than recipes with many ingredients. Simple meals with simple ingredients are often the cheapest meals you can find.

Check out these related articles:

35+ Frugal Meals for Families (That Your Family Will Love!)

Listed below are some of my best ideas for easy, frugal meals for your family. Most of these recipes can be made in less than 30 minutes!

Are you low on money until you get your next paycheck? Do you need to reduce your grocery budget to meet other financial obligations? Many families are feeling a pinch in their pocketbook right now and cheap meals are a great way to cut back on spending.

Another way to save on meals is to choose recipes that have no meat. Choose one or two nights a week to make dinner without meat and choose a different protein instead.

These above tips will help you to save money on your grocery budget and will help you to make frugal meals that your family will love. Saving money on groceries is a great way to free up money to pay off debt or put towards saving of some sort.

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Frugal Meals for Families for Breakfast

In this section I share some of our favorite recipes for frugal meals for breakfast.

Breakfast is one of the easiest times of day to save money because breakfast meals can be soooo inexpensive. Forget eating sugary cereal from the store–it’s expensive and chock-full of sugar. These recipes will be delicious and frugal.

Pro tip: Serving waffle, pancakes, French toast, or something similar to young kids? Use a plastic pizza cutter to make slicing food into bite-size pieces fast and easy!

1. Waffles

My mom has a great recipe for waffles. She used to make it so often that she had it memorized. It is delicious and she actually uses the same recipe for pancakes. That makes it super easy if you have some members of your family who prefer waffles and some who prefer pancakes. You can just use the same batter and make both!

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Sift dry ingredients together and add wet ingredients. Stir just until incorporated. Pour into your waffle maker and enjoy!

2. Pancakes

If you want a delicious pancake recipe that is specifically for pancakes, then check out this recipe! It is so yummy and I love making this recipe for my family.

1 1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Sift dry ingredients and the stir in wet ingredients. Do not overmix. Pour onto hot griddle in the size you want.

3. Oatmeal

Is there a cheaper breakfast than oatmeal? It has to be one of the most frugal meals for families out there.

And there are so many ways to top it and different ingredients to add that you could probably come up with a different recipe every single day for a whole year. This is how I make oatmeal for me and my kids.

1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup water
Dash salt (optional–I usually forget)

Add all ingredients into a microwave safe bowl that is about 3 cups capacity so it doesn’t boil over the sides. Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir and then microwave again for about 60 seconds. It’s perfectly done and ready for your favorite toppings.

You can cook this oatmeal on the stove obviously (by following directions on the carton) but I prefer my oatmeal really cooked so it takes a long time on the stove.

Some of our favorite toppings are cinnamon, sugar, and milk. Throw in some chopped up apple (or your favorite berries) for a little extra flavor and a serving of fruit.

4. Egg Muffins

These are great muffins to make ahead of time and just grab when you and your kids are heading out the door.’

This recipe is easily adjusted so you can throw in a variety of things you have already in your fridge or pantry.

Do you have chopped veggies that nobody is eating? How about some bacon bits, lunch meat, or sausage? Is there a small bit of shredded cheese hiding at the back of your fridge? Did you use the egg whites or egg yolks for another recipe and the remnants are now hanging out in your fridge? Don’t let this food go to waste! Toss it in these muffins and enjoy!

12 eggs
Up to 1/2 pound precooked meat (sausage, bacon, ham, lunch meat)
Up to 1 cup chopped vegetables (onion, peppers, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, etc.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or dry mustard powder
Up to 1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, feta, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper or silicone liners. You could spray the pan but I find it’s still difficult to clean up–liners just make things easier. Beat eggs in a bowl and add other ingredients. Fill cups with about 1/3 cup of mixture. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until inserted knife comes out clean.

5. Brown Rice with Cinnamon and Sugar

I was introduced to this dish by my best friend back in high school. It’s perfect if you have leftover rice in the fridge. Just add milk, cinnamon, and sugar and enjoy! This meal would be great to warm you up on cold mornings.

4 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup milk
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
Up to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)

Warm cooked rice and milk on stove or in microwave. Add sugar and cinnamon. Enjoy warm!

6. Eggs

Eggs are so versatile! Boiled, fried, sunny-side up, scrambled, made into an omelet, etc. There are so many options when in comes to eggs. Eggs are a great frugal option. Here’s one of my favorite ways to serve eggs.

8 eggs
1/2 cup spinach
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat ingredients in bowl and pour into non-stick pan. Cook eggs thoroughly. Serve warm with toast. Delicious and healthy.

7. Fruit and Yogurt

Yogurt and fruit is a nice, light breakfast. If you buy yogurt in the big tub rather than the individual containers, it is cheaper per serving.

One of my favorite flavor combinations is strawberry yogurt with sliced bananas in it. There are many options for combinations so try a few out and see what you like best. Try a Greek yogurt for a higher protein content that will help you stay full longer.

8. Muffins

Muffins are another great option when considering frugal meals for families.

And it is another recipe that has a million different options.

Do you want fruit in your muffin? Oats or quinoa? Cinnamon and sugar? What do you have on hand that needs to be used up? Making a recipe from scratch is so much cheaper than buying a prepackaged mix from the store. And healthier too. Here’s a great recipe if you just want something basic.

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Stir dry ingredients together and then add wet ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Grease muffin tins or line with paper or silicone liners. Scoop into pan filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake for about 25 minutes.

9. Hash Browns and Eggs

Potatoes are so inexpensive if you buy the Russet variety, which makes this another great frugal meal for families. Making your own hash browns is a great way to save money. Pair with eggs cooked any way you like. The trick to making really crispy hash browns is to make sure your potatoes are dry when you put them in the pan. A potato ricer can help with this or a salad spinner.

1 pound Russet potatoes, shredded and dried
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Put oil in pan and heat on stove on medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add potatoes in a nice, thin, even layer. You want the pan the right size to create a layer about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle salt and pepper over potatoes.

After cooking for a few minutes, lift up an edge slightly to see if the underside is getting browned. If they are a nice golden color, they are ready to flip. Flip the whole thing all at once or slice into sections and flip each section. Don’t stir. Cook on the other side and enjoy your nice, crispy hash browns and eggs.

10. Biscuits and Gravy

This is my favorite breakfast meal (and one of my favorite meals, in general!). My husband makes the gravy while I make the biscuits, and together we can have it on the table in about thirty minutes. Teamwork!

Though it takes a little longer than some of the other foods here and isn’t quite as cheap as many of them, it’s worth it! It’s also a great option for dinner. Making it all from scratch makes it more affordable than buying it premade from a store and definitely more affordable than a restaurant.

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup buttermilk 

Combine dry ingredients, gently knead in butter, and add milk. Gently knead on floured surface—don’t overknead. Bake 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Gravy

1/2 pound ground sausage and/or bacon
4 hard-boiled eggs, diced (optional)
2 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook sausage and bacon then remove and put grease in pot. Add butter and melt. Add flour a little at a time. Cook 2-3 minutes, and then add milk a little at a time. Stir. Add sausage and bacon and diced eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste. So delicious!

11. French Toast

French toast is so delicious and it is a great way to use up some bread that is getting a little on the stale side.

I like to make up a big batch, use up the whole loaf, and just stick the leftovers back into the bread bag and put it in the fridge for the next day (or later that same day as a snack for my kiddos–sans syrup).

My dad is the one who makes French toast when we go visit my parents. This is close to his recipe (he doesn’t measure ingredients).

4 eggs
2 cups milk
Cinnamon and sugar mixture
16 slices of bread

Preheat griddle or frying pan to medium heat. Combine eggs and milk in a bowl and whisk together. Dip bread in mixture and flip to coat both sides. Carefully place on griddle or pan. Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture over the top of each slice.

Cook a few minutes until golden brown, and then flip and cook on the other side. If you have extra egg/milk mixture left over, you can make more slices of French toast, or my dad just makes scrambled eggs with the leftovers on the same griddle he made the French toast.

Top the French toast with your favorite toppings. We like to top ours with butter and syrup, jam, or powdered sugar. My brothers enjoy theirs with whipped topping!

12. Crepes

Crepes are a delicious breakfast. We prefer ours to be filled with sweet toppings but feel free to experiment if you want to have yours be more savory. Many cultures around the world serve crepes with savory toppings such as meat, veggies, eggs, and so on. (I love mine with shredded cheese. Yum!)

We like to use this basic recipe.

1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
Dash of salt

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. I try to get all the lumps out but I’m pretty sure that’s impossible. Not to worry–they taste great anyway. Heat a non-stick pan, lightly oiled, on the stove over medium-high heat.

Depending on the size of your pan, you will need to adjust how much batter you put in the pan at one time. Tilt the pan to spread the batter to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Let cook for a few minutes and then flip.

They are best served warm and we like to top ours with butter and syrup, peanut butter, jam, or cinnamon and sugar. Try out whatever sounds good to you!

Frugal Meals for Families for Lunch

Below are some of my favorite frugal lunch recipes. Nothing too fancy here, just regular ingredients you likely already have in your house. Most of these can be made in just a few minutes. Add a piece of fruit or some veggies on the side and you are good to go.

13. Leftovers

Do you have leftovers from dinner, lunch, or hey, even breakfast? Don’t let that good food go to waste. Reheat it and enjoy! If you want to change it up a little bit, see how you can still enjoy it but add a little something.

Would it be good on a salad? Could it go on a sandwich or in a tortilla shell? Could it be made into a soup or casserole? The cheapest meal is one you already have in your house.

Eating leftovers means one more meal for which you don’t have to buy more food. If you make this a regular practice and NEVER let your leftovers go bad, you could save a bunch of money!

14. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

This is a classic and cheap lunch idea and is particularly delicious on cold days! To make this dish even more filling, add your favorite lunch meat to the sandwich.

We usually have grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup but one day we were out of bread so I made grilled cheese quesadillas and tomato soup and it was just as delicious!

Feel free to substitute like ingredients if you don’t have something on hand. We use this simple recipe.

8 slices bread
6 tablespoons butter
4 slices cheddar cheese
Lunch meat (optional)

Tomato soup (canned)
Water (we actually use milk to prepare ours)

Preheat large square skillet (or griddle) over medium heat. Butter one side of four slices of bread. Place bread with the butter side down onto skillet and add one slice of cheese and lunchmeat (if using) to each slice. Butter remaining slices of bread on just one side, and place butter side up to top the sandwiches.

Grill sandwiches until lightly browned, flip over, and continue grilling until cheese is melted. You may need to top with a lid (any big pot or pan lid) to keep the heat in so the cheese will melt. Serve with tomato soup, following directions on can to prepare.

15. Mac and Cheese Supreme

This is a great way to make classic macaroni and cheese to make it a little bit healthy less unhealthy. We love to add vegetables like carrots and broccoli. Sometimes we will also add polish dogs or hot dogs to add a little more bulk and protein. In fact, we have even tried it with ground beef and chicken, though not both at the same time ;-).

1 cup baby carrots cut in half lengthwise
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 box macaroni and cheese
Ingredients according to instructions on box
2 hot dogs or other meat of your choice (fully cooked and chopped)

Boil a pot of water on the stove. Add broccoli and carrots to begin softening. Boil for five minutes (adjust time based on how crunchy you like your veggies). Add pasta from box. Prepare macaroni and cheese according to instructions on box. Reduce heat on stove. Return prepared macaroni and veggies to stove and add meat to warm on the stove for a few minutes. Enjoy!

16. Baked Potato

Potatoes are the royalty of cheap and frugal foods. Right now at Walmart I can get ten pounds of russet potatoes for less than three dollars. That’s probably 30 potatoes or so which makes each potato about 10 cents!

That is so cheap! Personally I like mine topped with yummy things like cheese and butter, but if you can choke yours down with just a little salt and pepper–you’ve got yourself a 10 cent meal!

This would be a great time to see what ingredients or condiments you have lurking in the back of your fridge and use it to top your baked potato.

1 russet potato
Salt and pepper to taste
Toppings of choice such as butter, sour cream, cheese, salsa, chili, green onions, bacon bits, black beans, broccoli, etc.

Pierce potato with fork and put in microwave for five minutes. Flip potato over and cook for another five minutes. Insert fork into potato and if it’s soft, then it’s ready.

If you can’t insert the fork easily, cook for one or two more minutes, depending on the size of the potato. When the potato is ready, remove from microwave and cut lengthwise. Insert toppings of your choice.

At this point you might want to put the potato and the toppings back in the microwave for one minute to melt the butter and cheese, if desired. Mmm, delicious.

17. Pasta and Red Sauce

This recipe is so easy and quick. And it’s also pretty tasty. This is another meal that you can tweak depending on what you have in your house. I usually use canned diced tomatoes that already have garlic, basil, and oregano in it already.

I’ve used plain canned diced tomatoes. I’ve also used pizza sauce that was leftover from another recipe.

If you have some canned corn or another vegetable you think would be good, you could add that as well.

8 oz. pasta
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 can corn
1/2 cup cheese

Boil pasta according to directions and then drain. Add diced tomatoes, corn, salt and spices to taste (garlic salt, oregano, Italian seasoning, etc.). You can top with the cheese or stir it all in and let it mix into the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy warm.

18. Egg Burritos

Egg burritos are a great way to get a warm, filling lunch into everyone’s tummy. And they are delicious and cheap if you can get eggs for a good price.

If you have any scrambled eggs leftover from a breakfast, they would be great to add to this. Veggies are going to help make the eggs go farther and add some excellent nutrients to the meal.

8 eggs
Salt to taste
4-6 soft tortilla shells
Mix-ins of choice such as onion, shredded potato, cheese, peppers, beans, spinach, etc.
Toppings of choice such as sour cream, avocado, cheese, salsa, salsa verde, or hot sauce

Spray non-stick skillet with cooking spray and start by cooking your chosen vegetable mix-ins to soften them. Add eggs and salt and scramble. (I like to add about 1/8-1/4 cup of water to my eggs to help fluff them up.)

Now it’s time to add the spinach and cheese if you are using these. Remove skillet from burner and serve up in a tortilla shell with the toppings of your choice. These are also great to freeze for a quick breakfast on the go!

19. Homemade “Pizza”

This recipe is so easy and so yummy. It takes a few minutes to construct the “pizza” but it will be worth it. This is another recipe that can be tweaked depending on what you have in your house and what food you need to use up.

I’ve used white and wheat tortilla shells. I’ve used tomato sauce, tomato paste, and canned pizza sauce. Mozzarella cheese and/or cheddar cheese–both are great!

I love mine with just tomatoes but you could add onion, peppers, mushrooms, sausage, bacon, pepperoni, pineapple, olives, etc. It’s as versatile as regular pizza!

8 soft tortilla shells
1 can tomato paste
2 cups cheese
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 pack pepperoni (optional)
Garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread a spoonful of tomato paste onto one side of a tortilla shell. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Add a layer of cheese and then a layer of sliced tomatoes and pepperoni (and other toppings if using).

Next is another layer of cheese. Spread another spoonful of tomato paste on another tortilla shell and sprinkle with more garlic salt. Then place the second tortilla shell on the top cheese layer of the other one, tomato past down. It’s like a pizza-tortilla sandwich.

Next put one or two (depending on how many will fit on you pan) completed pizzas on a cookie sheet and place in preheated oven. Bake for six minutes on each side or until insides are melty and warm and the shell is getting a little crispy. Slice with pizza cutter and enjoy!

20. Salad

Oh, the many varieties of salad! Pasta salad, green salad, fruit salad, potato salad, egg salad, chicken salad, etc. We could go on all day with the different kinds of salads.

We’re again going to reiterate that this is a great time to look in your fridge and pantry and see what’s in there.

What can you put together to make into a salad? Do you have a lot of fresh vegetables? Or fresh fruits?

Look in your cupboards and see what you can use in a salad before it goes bad. Here is one of my very favorite salads and one I make frequently for family get-togethers: Potato Salad.

Six large potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
1 can black olives
1 tomato
6 hard-boiled eggs
1 tablespoon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika to taste (optional)

Wash and boil the potatoes in salted water until soft. Meanwhile, roughly chop the boiled eggs, tomatoes, and olives. Mix in a large bowl with mayonnaise and salt. Chill in fridge for a few hours or serve warm. So delicious and cheaper than the stuff in your grocery store deli.

21. Tuna with Cucumber

This one could not be easier. It’s a little twist on tuna fish sandwiches and is really great if you are trying to watch your carb intake. It’s a great way to get in some healthy vegetables. You can of course put the tuna on some bread and make a sandwich and substitute the cucumber for a pickle. Also delicious!

2 can tuna fish, drained
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cucumber sliced
Salt to taste

Mix up tuna, mayonnaise, and salt in a bowl. Use sliced cucumber to scoop up some of the tuna mixture and enjoy! We love this simple meal!

22. Sandwiches

Sandwiches are a really great way to make your dollars go farther. A couple loaves of bread, a can of peanut butter, and a jar of jelly (grape jelly is usually the cheapest) will likely cost you under ten dollars and could feed you and your family for a week or more, depending on how many people there are and how much they love sandwiches.

But good ol’ PB&J is not the only way to go.

I love lunch meat sandwiches, tuna sandwiches (see number 21), egg salad sandwiches, etc. Sandwiches are so versatile and there are so many varieties, you could likely eat a different sandwich every day for a month.

One of my all-time favorite sandwiches is a chicken salad sandwich, and I’ll share a delicious (and super easy) recipe. The following recipe is very basic and you can spruce it up any way you like.

Additional ingredient ideas: thinly sliced apples, chopped grapes, cashews or peanuts (peanuts are cheaper), green onion, chopped celery, seeds, diced cheese, dill spice, etc.

2 cups chicken, cooked and cubed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and then scoop onto bread to make your sandwich. Filling and delicious!

23. Roll-ups

Another frugal and simple lunch idea is what we call a roll up. Take any sandwich fixings and put it in a tortilla shell and then roll it up–hence the name! I’ll give you my favorite recipe below. This recipe is for one roll-up for one person.

1 tortilla shell
4 slices lunch meat of choice
1/4 shredded cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 leaves of lettuce

Place slices of lunch meat on tortilla shell. Sprinkle cheese on top. Microwave long enough to start melting the cheese. Remove from microwave and spread mayonnaise on top. Place lettuce on top of that and roll it up. Enjoy!

24. Quesadillas

Quesadillas can be really basic or they can be a little more elaborate. The most basic one I make for my kids is just two tortillas shells with some cheese spread out inside and microwave it for one minute.

But here’s another recipe that we all really love.

Chicken Quesadillas

6-8 tortilla shells
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoon taco seasoning
1 tablespoon salsa verde
2 cups cheese

In a small bowl, mix up mayonnaise, taco seasoning, and salsa verde. Spread mayonnaise mixture on one side of tortilla shell, top with shredded chicken and cheese. Spread mixture on one side of another tortilla shell and place that, mayonnaise down on top of the cheese.

Melt butter on a skillet and place quesadilla on skillet on stove at medium heat. Cook for a few minutes, until crisp, then flip over carefully, and cook other side. Remove from stove, cut into slices with pizza cutter and enjoy!

Frugal Meals for Families for Dinner

Below I will share some of our favorite frugal recipes for dinner. These are all dishes that we love and your wallet will love them too. A salad or some cut up vegetables would go really well with a lot of these dishes to get some extra nutrients into your meals.

25. Chili

This is one of my favorite quick and easy frugal meals! (My older daughter, a somewhat picky eater, is a huge fan of chili!) You can add corn chips and cheese on top and make it extra delicious. We also love ours with corn bread. The extra can of beans is optional but it helps it go farther and cheaper.

1 pound ground beef
1/2 chopped onion
1 to 2 regular size cans of chili with beans
1 can of chili beans or kidney beans (optional)
2 or 3 cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin (optional)

Brown the hamburger and onion in a skillet on the stove. When it’s finished cooking, drain the grease from the meat. Add remaining ingredients to a saucepan along with the meat and onion and heat through.

26. Spaghetti Bolognese

Growing up we just called this “spaghetti.” Pasta is one of the cheapest ingredients out there so this is a great frugal option. It’s also super delicious with garlic bread. Pair this with a green salad and you’ve got a wonderful dinner. The cream of mushroom soups makes the sauce more creamy and not so tomato-y.

1 pound ground beef
3 cans tomato sauce
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 package spaghetti seasoning (or make from scratch)
1/2 pound spaghetti noodles

Boil pasta on the stove with some salt in the water. Brown ground beef on the stove in a skillet. Drain the meat when it has finished cooking. Return skillet to the stove and add tomato sauce, mushroom soup, and seasoning packet. Warm thoroughly. Drain water from cooked pasta. Serve pasta topped with spaghetti sauce.

27. Soup/Stew

Soup and stew are very versatile meals. There are more recipes than you can imagine. Below is a very yummy and filling stew that my mom made for us while I was growing up. It’s perfect for a cold winter day.

The ingredients in this recipe can be tweaked easily depending on what you have in your kitchen. I’ve substituted minute rice for the barley, baby carrots for regular carrots, cream of celery soup for cream of mushroom soup, and so on. It’s very versatile so feel free to substitute like items you already have on hand.

2 pounds potatoes, washed and chopped into bite-size pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup barley
1/2 pound ground beef, cooked
1 cup beef stock
3 cups water
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil water and beef stock in large stock pot. Add potatoes, carrots, celery, and salt to water and allow to boil. When vegetables are beginning to soften, add barley and ground beef. Add cream of mushroom soup to thicken the sauce and serve hot. It’s especially delicious with rolls.

28. Chicken Noodle Soup

Here is another soup recipe that is very easy and versatile. It is one of my favorite frugal meals for a winter day.

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1  large onion, chopped
3  carrots, peeled and sliced
2  stalks celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf (optional)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
10 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound egg noodles

In a large stock pot, combine chicken, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf. Season generously with salt and pepper. Pour in broth. Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Add egg noodles. Cover and cook on medium high until pasta is tender, about ten minutes.

29. Three Bean Soup

Beans are such a frugal ingredient to use in meals. This soup offers a great variety of beans and feel free to switch it up if you don’t have exactly what the recipe calls for.

3 quart vegetable broth
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pasta
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine broth, tomatoes, beans, salt, and vegetables in a large stock pot. Turn on stove to high heat and boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer until carrots are cooked to your liking. Add pasta and cook until tender, about ten minutes. Add pepper to taste and serve warm.

30. Bean and Cheese Burritos

These are so easy, so frugal, and so fast. If you have canned refried beans you can use that. I’ve made my own refried beans from scratch if you want to go ultra frugal.

Tortilla shells
Can of refried beans
Shredded cheese

Spread refried bean on tortilla shell and top with shredded cheese. Wrap into a burrito and heat in microwave until heated through and cheese is melted.

31. Vegetarian Tacos

Oh, tacos! I love tacos and they are so fast and so frugal. This recipe is going to be a little bit different because rather than using ground beef or chicken, we will use lentils. I just swap out the ground beef for lentils and voila! Super frugal vegetarian tacos.

6-8 tortilla shells
1 cup lentils
1 cup shredded cheese
Tomatoes, diced
Lettuce
Other toppings could include olives, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, hot sauce, etc.
Taco seasoning packet (or make from scratch)

Cook lentils according to directions. Drain. Add taco seasoning and stir. Assemble taco as desired and enjoy.

32. Rice and Chicken Casserole

I love this yummy casserole. Rice is so frugal and inexpensive.

2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
2 cups rice, cooked
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup frozen broccoli
1 cup shredded cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine chicken, rice, mushroom soup, salt, pepper, and broccoli in a large bowl. Transfer to cake pan and top with cheese. Cook in oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

33. Fried Rice

Fried rice is another great frugal meal for familis.

It can be made in a million different ways. What do you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry that can be used up? Could it possibly be good in fried rice?

One of our favorites is ham and egg fried rice. Our recipe is below but feel free to tweak and substitute as you like.

4 eggs
3 slices ham lunch meat
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 small onion
1 cup frozen peas and carrots mix
4 cups rice, cooked
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Scramble eggs in skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil. Transfer to separate bowl. Add remaining oil to skillet and cook onions until tender. Add all ingredients including eggs to skillet, mix, and heat until all ingredients are hot.

34. Rice and Lentils

This recipe is so cheap and so good. Rice and lentils are just so delicious together. If you have some cooked, diced chicken, feel free to add it to the lentils.

2 cups cooked rice
2 cups cooked lentils
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
Red wine vinegar
Vegetable oil
Salt to taste

In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, vinegar, salt, and vegetable oil. Let sit while you cook rice and lentils. Scoop rice and lentils onto your plate and top with tomato/onion mixture.

35. Twice Baked Potatoes

Potatoes are such a frugal option and this is a fun take on regular ol’ baked potatoes. These are very easy to make and if you already have some baked potatoes on hand, these are very fast.

6-8 potatoes, washed and baked (instructions above)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup bacon bits (optional)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

Once baked potatoes have cooled slightly, cut them in half and scoop out the insides, leaving peeling in one piece, like a bowl. Repeat with all potatoes.

Mash the potatoes with milk, butter, garlic salt, about half of cheese, and bacon bits, if using. Scoop mixture back into potato peel. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

36. Hot Dog Boats

I had these at school when I was growing up and my siblings and I liked them so much we asked my mom to make them at home for dinner. They are perfect for leftover mashed potatoes. Kids are sure to love them.

1 package of hot dogs
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup shredded cheese

Slice hot dogs in half lengthwise, leaving a little attached along the side. Lay hot dog on cookie sheet with cut side facing up, making the “boat.” Repeat with all hot dogs. Scoop mashed potatoes onto each boat. top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and hot dog and mashed potatoes are heated through.

Final Thoughts on Frugal Meals for Families

Grocery shopping is one of the best places to cut costs if you are looking to save money. Cutting grocery costs is a great way to make your dollars stretch a little farther.

The recipes I have shared are great options for frugal meals for families. They are fast, frugal, flavorful, and family friendly.

What kinds of frugal meals do you and your family eat when you are cutting costs? Do you have any frugal meals you make that were your favorites as a child?

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